In a disaster such as Hurricane Harvey, there are three distinct phases – Rescue, Relief and Recovery. PastorServe will be deeply involved in all three.
We have begun compiling a list of pastors and churches that have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey. We already have made inroads into the international church community as well as the leading city church-planting network. We have been on the ground in Houston and connected with dozens of pastors. We have directly provided financial support to thirty-three Houston pastors. I have personally spoken with city leaders who are directing the rescue efforts.
The PastorServe team will return to Houston four to five times before the end of October. We will continue to distribute financial aid as many pastors will fear personal financial collapse. We will identify need, provide triage (both financial and emotional), offer care, provide counseling and encouragement and engage in trust building. Because many congregations in Houston will not meet for weeks or months, many pastors will not receive a paycheck. For these pastors it might mean paying their mortgage or rent for a month. Others will need groceries. The leader of the Houston Church Planting Network lost his car in the food. We need to help stabilize pastors and allow them to stay in the community. Several pastors will need cash gifts to sustain them through a difficult period.
We know that in six months, suicide will rise steeply in Houston. Divorce will spike. These are the heartbreaking realities for those recovering from a natural disaster. Sadly, the data varies little for pastors. Just yesterday I met with a pastor that led efforts from his megachurch in Moore OK after the 1999 tornado disaster. In two years, 100% of the staff of a mega church had left! Everyone! They could not take the emotional stress involved with the recovery.
As we move into the relief phase we will identify a local boots on the ground leader who can temporarily serve as a member of the PastorServe team. We will need a local leader to coordinate all we need to do to effectively serve. We have already had three pastors apply for this position. Some pastors will need a vacation in a couple of months. Others will need marriage support. We have already reached out to a number of partner ministries to help us in this phase of the relief efforts.
Our initial work will help put wind in a pastor’s sails. The longer-term work will sustain him/her over the long haul. Eventually, we’ll move into more coaching oriented conversations related to assessing and leadership challenges. When necessary, we will call on additional partners to serve the needs of the Texas pastoral community.
Following our initial triage and recovery care, we will work to identify the churches that are the most impacted by the flooding as well as the churches that are the most consistently under-resourced. Once we identify these churches, we will seek to connect them to a resourced church outside of the impacted region. This can lead to relationships, mission trip opportunities and much more. This is already in process.
After Katrina ravaged New Orleans the city, we connected approximately fifteen New Orleans churches with fifteen churches outside of the Louisiana coast. One of the great stories was the relationship developed between Pastors Rex Bonar and Mike Bickley of Olathe Bible Church (outside of Kansas City) and Pastor James Willis of Carver Desire Baptist Church in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. The two churches formed a beautiful relationship that continues today. Mission teams from Olathe Bible regularly traveled to New Orleans to assist in the rebuilding of Carver Desire. Pastor Willis regularly traveled to Olathe Bible to preach. Carver Desire would not have recovered apart from the partnership with Olathe Bible. We expect a number of similar relationships to emerge in Houston and the Gulf Coast.
Learn more about PastorServe’s ministry to Houston:
- Disaster Response – Houston
- The PastorServe Plan – Rescue, Recovery and Relief
- Why PastorServe?
- PastorServe’s history serving after natural disasters
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